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sex appeal – The Brooklyn Rail – Brooklyn Rail

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it isn’t that the covid makes
me feel sexy. but i live alone.
even without this isolation,
i’ve lived too long without

touch. my hair, piled on my
head. wisps, basking in the
glory of my neck. glasses,
clasped against the bridge

of my nose. my red and
black flannel long sleeve
shirt and pajamas shorts
from the gap, my labia

exposed. i sauté veggies.
exhausted. no one here
to do this work but me.
but who else really do i

need to tell me what it
looks like to stare into
my eyes? my chest does
a dance. steam burning

in my throat. my torso.
fatigued. yet, erect enough
in this kitchen to feel the
softness of my curves

dangling a carrot from
my skin. my body is a
temple. how many more
times will i have to learn

this psalm? in how many
different dialects will i
yearn the siren song of
my sickly serenade before

i cease to thrust my anthem
in the dust? after i put away
the leftovers, clean the stove
top, empty the sink, i take a

hot shower. hold the metal
bar. lean against the door.
i did this once. prayed to
my dead brother and every

single god. tonight, i only
have the strength to summon
me. in college, my mother
often asked when i would

write a poem without
mentioning my eating
disorder. my grandmother
asked when i would

write a poem about joy.
i suppose, when the body
has been ravaged—
consensually or not—

every single poem

is lust.

Caroline Rothstein is an internationally touring writer, poet, performer, and educator. Her work has appeared in CosmopolitanMarie ClaireNarrativelyThe Guardian, BuzzFeed, NYLON, The ForwardHey Alma, and elsewhere. Caroline and her work have been featured widely including in The New YorkerMTV NewsChicago TribuneCBS Evening NewsMic, and Newsweek. She is a Youth Mentor at Urban Word NYC and a facilitator for the Dialogue Arts Project. She performs poetry, speaks, and facilitates workshops and teaches year-round at colleges, universities, schools, summer camps, community organizations, and performance venues worldwide and virtually.
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